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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0brzkzx/they-shall-not-grow-old

Two particularly poignant moments. When it first goes to colour and towards the end when the men said how they were treated when they got back.

Comments

  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 893Member
    Wonderfully moving stuff. As a side point, we help a little old lady of 90 in with chores in our street. I was hooking up her first internet connection on Sunday (she's a spritly thing) and she showed me the colour promo photo in the newspaper where some soldiers are sitting at a table with a sergeant on the left. The fellow immediatly behind him is her father! She doesn't have any photos of him at that young age let alone colour. She is now able to rewatch it on the iplayer which was totally unplanned but a lovely coincedence and nice outcome from a terrible conflict.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Should do a screen grab and get a colour picture to keep.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited November 14
    WOW !

    The interviews from the troops revealed something totally unexpected to me. Cheerfulness. I suppose not all were like that.

    Most never talked about the war. I remember my grandfather (WW2 RSM REME Commando) rarely talked about it and the reason ? Nan always used to give a big yawn and say "Not this again !"

    The women used to shut it down. They didn't want to hear about it. "You just had a jolly. It was NOTHING compared to what we had to endure."
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited November 14
    My Grandad (Normandy) shot down a passing Stuka with his Lewis gun. The whole Luftwaffe squadron looped, swooped and strafed his position. He said the screaming dive bombers made him want to crawl under the grass and he kicked himself for being so silly as to have taken them on. He got a brief citation and a "Keep up the good work." No medal.

    Later he got shell shock whilst pinned down under a creeping barrage. My brother and I used to mimic him by rattling our teacups. I feel very bad about this now.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
    Thanks for sharing this Kevin. I haven’t watched it yet, but will on the big tv (not my iPad).
    I hope all those chaps who have been silenced by the bored wives get to tell their stories one more time so they are recorded. I find the individual stories more touching that the overall impression of war, like a news broadcast. Those are the stories we need.
    My mum’s father went missing in WW2 when she was only a few weeks old. Her mum never spoke about him and now we have just one photo of him which my mum didn’t find until very recently. I would have loved to know what he was like, and I’m sure my mum would too.
  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,684Member
    I'm a big fan of Dan Carlin's Hardcore Histories and his series on WW1 is just immense. When he was describing a soldier who was trapped in mud at Paschendale and no-one could get to him, and he couldn't get out of the mud, and there was just nothing anyone could do, but wait) it was scarcely imaginable. Such things were mentioned again in this film and it's still barely imaginable. But it happened. And not just once.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited November 16
    Ben Elton's book The First Casualty is particularly descriptive of mud and rotting, sodden clothing. Also A Covenant with Death by John Harris.

    The interesting thing is that neither books were written by first hand witnesses. There is a retrospective horror to them. All of the first hand accounts I have read contain something which a biographer could not input and that's the fact that these people were hardy and that they could find joy in the midst of it all. Elton's book is relentlessly grim, Harris's conveys the Boy's Own sense of adventure and glory-seeking that pervaded the ranks, outside the massacres of course. Those Harris images were enough (without being overly gory) to convey the horror of making the best of friends and having fun with the liveliest of characters (for virtually the whole book) and then living with them dead in a crater for several days, the final chapter. This had more impact upon me than anything I have ever experienced outside of personal loss.

    At the end of this film it is almost confirmed that men had become used to it all and were given purpose by it. Upon hearing of the Armistice, "It was like we were made redundant. What do we do now ?"

    I was genuinely shocked by that. It was very hard for many of them to resettle.

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,684Member
    There's an image in the film of German barbed wire defences. In my ignorance I always thought that the barbed wire defences would have been simply several reels of barbed wire deep - still not easy to get through, especially under shell, mortar, machine gun fire - but doable, at great cost of course.

    But that image in the film is of barbed wire so dense and so thick and so deep I just can't imagine how anyone could get through it. The artillery didn't blast holes in it as expected, and it was about thirty times too thick for soldiers wrapped in loads of extra clothes to lie on whilst others used them as human bridges (which apparently happened some places), or to throw boards or mattresses over it, which happened elsewhere.

    With the coming of tanks then there may be a way through. But before that? I just can't imagine.

  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    In WW2 they had special explosive tubing for the job.
  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,684Member
    Yep, Bangalore Torpedoes
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